Galapagos Day 2 - Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz!

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May 2nd 2012
Published: May 23rd 2012
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The adventure continued this morning as we started the day off walking back towards the docks. We had some appointments with people on cruise stuff, but since we had some time we went in search of food. And to Sarah´s delight her every wish came true when we found pancakes! As a huge breakfast lover she has been in serious withdrawal on this trip and this was a welcome change. Needless to say, this restaurant became a mainstay for us with the pancakes, french toast, good coffee, fresh fruit and juice. As a non-breakfast person I can still say it was quite good, especially the freshly squeezed fruit juice.

Afterwards we walked down to the pier. Overnight there was a lot of change in the cove with the number of boats. The water level had also risen a good 5 feet so the dock area looked a bit different. One sea lion had some how climbed into one of the dinghys and was looking quite comfortable sleeping with his head perched up on the side of the boat.

Today was dedicated to hard core cruise searching (topic again for another post). During the search we walked past the spot that fish boats bring their catch in to sell to local restaurants. There was a whole lot of tuna, wahoo and other fish I should probably know the names of. Watching the crews clean the fish and sell off filets while a lazy sea lion and pelicans waited for leftovers was an interesting site. Dad, you would have loved it.

A couple more sales pitches later we needed a break and were welcomed by a side street that ended right in the ocean with a beautiful view back towards the main part of town. We rested for a bit and soaked in the beauty. Back to the search and shortly thereafter we had visited just about every place we could and heard about every sales pitch we could and we were both pretty exhausted. Between the week of education we got in Guayaquil and the last two days we had reached a point of information saturation.

Since we were close to the Charles Darwin Research Center we walked over and spent time reading the displays in the interpretation center. The Interpretation center was actually disappointing. It did not really talk about the history of the Galapagos, Darwin, the endemic species or any of the things you would expect from a visitors center. We did learn about some of the conservation efforts and about some species that had been forever lost due to people habitating the islands.

Post knowledge building we decided to cool off at the beach. Sarah especially was in awe by the incredible little beach by the research center. She just could not believe how postcard perfect it was.

After the beach it was early afternoon and awfully hot. We walked back to the dock to catch some shade and breeze and to have a long discussion on where we were at with the cruise search, what do we think we want to do given all the information we have, and biggest of all, how this relates to our budget. It was such an amazing backdrop for some serious decision making and by this point we were at information overload so we had more than enough to make a decision.

Figuring out how to properly see the Galapagos on a backpackers budget makes for difficult decisions. What are the chances we will ever be here again? If we skip out on X because it costs Y will we regret it? If we have the money to come back here again down the road, will we? Or will we want to spend that money somewhere else or on something else? Answering these kinds of questions in the context of almost everything else we have done has been relatively easy. The Galapagos is a whole different animal though. Would it have been a bummer if we did not see the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina? Sure. Would I lose sleep over it? Probably not. What about if we missed the chance to swim with a school of hammerhead sharks because we were too concerned over a budget equivalent of a nice dinner out? Yeah, I'm losing sleep over that one. Ultimately we do have to continue to be very smart with money, but we decided that for the Galapagos we are leaving here with no regrets. And if that means skipping out on a nice dinner or 5 nice dinners down the line than so be it. Or if we have to miss out on a couple other cool things in Ecuador that is ok too.

So that was that. Decision made. We were going to book our 8-day cruise on the Floreana for a week from tomorrow and in the meantime we were going to see what we could on the islands the the cruise does not go to. Woohoo!

We walked back to Joybe Tours and had a chat with Betty. By this point we had gotten to know Betty and she was by far the most informative and most likeable person we had met. She understood what we were looking for and she did a nice job listening and presenting us with options. So we picked her to book the trip. After a bit of negotiating we settled on a price we were happy with and signed at the dotted line! I excitedly walked back to the hostal to collect the $1,000 in cash (all in $20 bills) we had been collecting and hiding with great anxiety. Why so much cash? In short, using a credit card incurs about a 20% higher cost so that is not an option. And Wells Fargo is very restrictive on how much cash can be withdrawn in a day from an ATM. And there are other complications. It was the largest amount of cash I had ever had in hand and it made me really nervous to be carrying it around. Getting rid of it was a welcome relief.

This was cause for a celebration! We walked back towards the fish market and found a nice little spot on the third floor deck of a restaurant overlooking town. We were all smiles as we enjoyed a cold lemon-heavy liquor drink, ice and all. Unfortunately three hours later Sarah´s still recovering stomach couldn´t handle the acid and she was hugging the toilet. Not quite the end to the celebratory day we had imagined but still a good day!

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